George Air Force Base, 2015 - 2017
In January 2015, I began photographing in the abandoned housing area at the decommissioned George Air Force Base in Victorville, California. This was an ongoing project until late April 2017. I was initially given permission to photograph exteriors for one weekend at the beginning of the project and I was also given permission for last couple of months at the end of the project. Otherwise all of my activities were clandestine.
The architect, A. Quincy Jones, was hired to design the approximately 600 housing units in the area that I photographed. These units were constructed between 1965 and 1972. The base was closed in 1992, and due to ground water contamination, the housing units were abandoned and have been subsequently left to deteriorate.
Over my career, I have produced many similar projects which involved an extended engagement with a site over time. I have always considered photographs to be artifacts of a physical, intellectual, technological, and experiential engagement. I have come to consider groups of my photographs produced in this manner as archives, and to consider the archive itself as the core of these projects. From these archives, any number of manifestations of a project can emerge from exhibitions, to books, to online manifestations.
Some of the photographs in this project are conventionally observational, often atmospheric observation, material observation, or direct documentation. Others images are more self-consciously engaging directly, or tangentially, with the discourse of contemporary art, often with an emphasis on gesture and abstraction. My interest in gesture is not limited to my own marks and activity but also architectural gesture, the gestures of individuals ripping open the walls stealing copper wire, or the gestures of military trainees spraying the walls with paint ball impacts during war game exercises. Or, on the exteriors, the gestures of someone recklessly driving a bulldozer clearing foliage between the buildings.
At George, we have the site of multiple engagements. The engagement of the massive and deadly momentum of the cold war. The engagement of the fictive battlefield for war games after its decommission. And the site of my own engagement of medium, sensibility, and multiple histories. Histories both cultural and personal.
I am presenting on these pages some of the loose groupings of work which I have preliminarily described by format and material. I have come to see the results of these engagements as allowing a wide range of approaches from sinister, formal, social, humorous, and personal.
Link to Full Statement